Don Davis has been the Forum Communications Minnesota Capitol Bureau chief since 2001, covering state government and politics for two dozen newspapers in the state. Don also blogs at Capital Chatter on Areavoices.
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ST. PAUL -- The Minnesota House would give veterans programs more money, but delay or eliminate some agriculture spending. But for some representatives, neither got enough money in a Wednesday 83-49 mostly party-line vote, with Democrats in favor and Republicans opposed. "We are willing to fund dog parks and trails and hockey arenas," Rep. Rod Hamilton, R-Mountain Lake, said. "Where is our priority?" Rep. Al Juhnke, DFL-Willmar, said his committee did the best it could to fund agriculture and veterans programs, given the budget deficit.
ST. PAUL -- Minnesota representatives told state-run colleges and universities to hold tuition increases to a minimum the next two years. A bill House members passed 86-46 Wednesday keeps Minnesota State Colleges and University system tuition increases to no more than 2 percent a year for the next two years. University of Minnesota tuition is capped at 3 percent annually. The vote was mostly party line, with Democrats for and Republicans against. "The stimulus money really helped us with this bill," Rep. Tom Rukavina, DFL-Virginia, said. "Thank heavens it was there.
ST. PAUL - Tim Pawlenty has not said whether he plans to seek a third term, but it might appear that way because Minnesota's Republican governor is rolling out improvements to his campaign Web site . A Pawlenty video welcomes people and a form next to the video box asks visitors to "join the team." It also features a large red box where visitors can click to contribute to his campaign. The site is to continue its overhaul over the next few weeks.
ST. PAUL -- Most Minnesotans' income taxes would rise under Senate Democrats' solution to the state budget deficit. Combined with budget cuts and the use of federal economic stimulus money, the $2.2 billion tax increase would help fill what otherwise would be a $6.4 billion deficit in the two-year budget beginning July 1. The tax plan unveiled Tuesday would raise taxes on all but 15.5 percent of Minnesota's 2 million taxpayers, Senate Tax Chairman Tom Bakk, DFL-Cook, said. A married couple with two children and a $90,000 annual income would pay $400 a year more.
ST. PAUL - The Minnesota Senate will consider raising all state income taxes, with married couples earning more than $250,000 annually being taxed at a new, higher 9.25 percent rate. Higher income taxes are the key to the Democratic-Farmer-Laborite controlled Senate plan that raises taxes $2 billion all told. Today's announcement sets up a three-way tax battle with the House and Gov. Tim Pawlenty. The DFL-controlled House on Monday begin looking at a plan that keeps all income taxes the same except for couples who earn more than $300,000. They would pay 9 percent of their income in taxes.
ST. PAUL -- Minnesota House Democrats propose increasing taxes on rich Minnesotans, smokers, drinkers, businesses that recently moved to Minnesota and youths downloading Internet music. House Tax Chairwoman Ann Lenczewski, DFL-Bloomington, said the bill is the biggest tax-reform measure in 20 years. She said it eliminates tax laws the state no longer can afford, items not fair and what is not working. Republicans, however, said the bill introduced Monday is little more than a tax increase for most Minnesotans.
ST. PAUL -- Bullying and other types of harassment would not be tolerated in Minnesota schools under a bill senators tentatively approved Thursday. On a 43-22 vote, the Senate approved a bill requiring school boards to adopt a policy that prohibits harassment. The policy applies to students and school workers. "The fact is some kids suffer vastly more significant forms of harassment," Sen. Scott Dibble, DFL-Minneapolis, said, specifically saying gay students often are victims. "We don't tolerate this type of activity from adults; why do we tolerate it from kids?" he added.
ST. PAUL -- Minnesota senators are considering increasing court fees nearly $36 million to prevent deep budget cuts for the courts system, but a leading judge and the senator in charge of judicial spending say the budget still would be too small. "They are moving in the right direction," Hennepin County District Judge Charles Porter said.
ST. PAUL -- Sally and Dale Zamlen say state law slowed a search for their son, missing from St. Paul since April 5. "Their hands are tied," Dale Zamlen told a Minnesota House Committee Wednesday about police. "They did all the right things. They followed the letter of the law." The law did not require police to launch a search immediately because at 18, Dan Zamlen, a St. Thomas University freshman from Eveleth, was considered an adult and many law enforcement agencies' policies allow officers to wait to begin an adult missing persons case.
ST. PAUL - Professionals who want to become teachers may not have an easy route to receive teaching licenses after a House committee Wednesday rejected the proposal. The House K-12 Education Finance Division voted 11-10 to strip the provision from an overall education bill. During earlier testimony, teachers told the committee that there is a difference between understanding how to do a job and teaching about it. The provision, like one proposed by Gov.